I’m not exactly sure when it occurred, when we collectively decided to drain the joy out of reading in early childhood, but it happened some time ago perhaps when we weren’t looking.

The expression about the frog being boiled by degrees so he won’t jump out of the pot, applies.

When it comes to reading we’ve been boiled by degrees and we weren’t aware of it.

The evidence for this comes from the dreadful worksheets brought to me by parents on a daily basis that are passed off as sham literature.

This week’s blog was prompted by parents who brought me “reading material’ on their child, young Brody, a second grader.   As I perused the packet of dreadful, there was a two page “story” that Brody was assigned.  The story had no redeeming value that authentic stories or literature would have, but what was even worse was what young Brody had to do after reading the story.  There were 20 multiple choice questions for the poor kid to slog through.  20!!!

The last time I looked, early second grade was not competing with the SAT.  Here’s one of the questions:

“If stir means “mix by moving around with a spoon” then stirred means

  1. Not mixing by moving around.
  2. Mix by moving around with a spoon
  3. Mixed by moving around with a spoon
  4. Mixing by moving around with a spoon.

Mind numbed yet?  I can just picture the author of this test congratulating himself for slipping in a way to learn about present and past tense.

Imagine 20 of these to sort out?

Keep in mind that I have not yet met or evaluated Brody, but the odds are pretty good that he has a reading problem.  Even if Brody turns out to be an adequate reader upon evaluation, the story and the 20 questions would have been stultifying to the best of students.

Somewhere along the line we got the notion that worksheets passing off as literature with their   accompanying tests were the answer, that each question somehow would bring the child to the next level of reading development.

I’m not buying it.

Twenty multiple choice questions following a faux story leads to turned-off kids, shutting them down.

Real literature ignites the imagination and gets the conversation going.  There’s meat on the bones.  Great stories motivate kids to read more great stories.


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